TUT co-hosts conference on Repositioning African Governments

by Kgaugelo Selane

13 October 2023

The South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM) in collaboration with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the University of South Africa (UNISA), hosted the 22nd SAAPAM annual conference at the Birchwood Conference Centre, Ekhuruleni, from 24 to 29 September. 

Prof Maserumule accepting SAPAAM award.

The conference brought together scholars, policymakers, practitioners and stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by African governments in today's fast-changing global landscape. Themed "Repositioning African Governments in the Changing Global Order and Disorder," the conference aimed to promote dialogue and facilitate innovative thinking on proactive leadership, effective governance structures and sustainable development approaches within African nations. 

Representatives from key departments, including the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the National School of Government (NSG), the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), as well as the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) were present at the conference. A total of 589 people attended the week-long conference, which boasted speakers from government sectors and academia. Amongst them were Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Noxolo Kiviet; Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi; University of South Africa’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Puleng Lenka-Bula; former President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who delivered his keynote address virtually; and TUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, who also delivered a virtual address on 25 September.

In his keynote address, Former President Thabo Mbeki postulated that; “All metrics show that the country is in a steep decline. The economy is shrinking and unemployment is increasing, our collapsing electricity parastatal is causing untold national harm, infrastructure in the land is failing and criminality- including institutional corruption facilitated by the ruling political class seems rampant.” The former President anticipated that the 22nd annual SAAPAM conference would pose and answer two critical questions honestly:

  • What contribution, if any, have the public administration and management made to this steep decline?
  • What contribution can and should public administration and management make to pull our country out of this steep decline and place it on an opposite trajectory?

Prof Maluleke highlighted the importance of SAAPAM’s dedication to public service through scholarships and research. “SAAPAM is focused on public service excellence through scholarship and research. By linking public service excellence to scholarship and research, while insisting on the very notion of public service excellence, SAAPAM distinguishes itself from other role players in the public administration and management space.”

In my view, the theme of the 2023  conference, Repositioning African Governments in the Changing Global Order and Disorder, represents a steep change in tempo, perspective and horizon. Unlike the themes of the last two conferences, which, though broad in scope of time and space, were nevertheless largely focused on South Africa's public administration, management and governance, the SAAPAM theme this year is explicit and unapologetic about its focus on African governments within the current global order. This is indeed also the global disorder, depending on one's perspective,” Prof Maluleke said.

During the conference gala dinner on 28 September, Ms Phumla Williams, former Director-General of Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) was honoured for her role in the public service. 

Having served close to two decades as the editor of The Journal of Public Administration, Prof Mashupye Maserumule, Executive Dean of TUT’s Faculty of Humanities, also received a special award for service. 

“I am deeply honoured to have received this award for my service. When I took over as the editor of the journal in 2012, I knew little about what it meant to be an editor, so I had to do my research. In my quest to understand this role, I came across an intriguing description by William Butler Yeats in his poem 'The Scholar,' where editors were depicted as 'bald heads, forgetful of their sins, old, learned, respectable bald heads.' This image troubled me, as I did not want to be seen as a conservative connoisseur of scholarship, nor did I want to be labelled as an 'old, bald head.' When I assumed the editorship position, as young and eager I was, I ensured that I brought a fresh perspective to the role, said Prof Maserumule. 

The collaboration between SAAPAM and TUT reflects a long-standing commitment to engaging multiple stakeholders in shaping policies and practices that promote efficient public administration and management. 

The conference offered a valuable opportunity for dialogue, learning and networking among professionals dedicated to improving governance outcomes in South Africa. SAAPAM is considered one of the biggest academic conferences in the field of Social Sciences in the Republic of South Africa and TUT’s involvement in this conference emphasises the University’s commitment to academic excellence as well as its dedication to contributing to the advancement of public administration and management in the country. 

SAAPAM audience over the 5-day conference.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711   Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za